Monthly Archives: April 2013

Share and share alike


Photo taken by me with my iPhone3Gs, shared on Instagram. @bearheartwoman

Photo taken by me with my iPhone3Gs, shared on Instagram. @bearheartwoman

Thanks everyone for all your support yesterday. I felt incredibly vulnerable after publishing yesterdays post, but today I am so glad I did. I feel better.

In other news, I have had a few people kindly ask me if they could use my images on their blogs to accompany their posts, so I thought it would be a good idea to make my thoughts on that topic clear and write a post about it.

I have absolutely no problem with anyone who wants to use any of my images that I post here for personal use. Whether you would like to use a particular image for your personal blog post, pin it on your Pinterest, share it on Facebook just because you like it, or even use my image as your screen saver, that is fine with me and I am flattered that you enjoy my photos. I have licensed all my photos under a Creative Commons – Non commercial – No derivatives license which basically means that you are free to share my work for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit me, link back to my blog and don’t make any changes to the original image.

I feel a little pompous for posting this because I am a HUGE AMATEUR, but it is a topic I started thinking about after I received a few requests to use my images on personal blogs, and some other people warned me about being too liberal in sharing my work so freely because of thieves.

Here’s what I think…

My entire motivation for having this blog is to support my desire to create and share. Taking photos and writing are creative activities that I enjoy immensely. I enjoy my time  that I go out to take photos, to edit them, and to write my thoughts down to accompany them. In my view, creation is incomplete without sharing. When other people express to me that they enjoy my work so much that they would also like to share it, it is icing on the cake and makes me very happy. Please do share and I will also share others whose creative output inspires me and I will credit and link back to you and I expect the same in return. It’s like an honour system.

I am not a professional nor do I make any money off of what I do here, so I’m the first to acknowledge that this is probably really easy for me to say. The only sure way to protect your work from thieves on the internet is to not share it online. Even when you put watermarks on your photos, a thief can easily crop it or smudge it out. Frustrating, wrong and unfair? Yes it is indeed and it’s a crappy realization to know there are jack asses out there who will take your work and try to pawn it off as their own, and even worse try to make a buck off of it. I don’t like it either. It is maddening and soul  sucking.

However, when my efforts to prevent thieves from stealing my work trumps my desire to express myself creatively and share…well, that is something that does not feel good to me and I don’t feel like going down that road. My creative time is too important to me to let it become all about them and not about me. I realize that I am a huge idealist, but I’m not stupid and I have carefully thought this through. This is what feels good for me. If it turns out that this approach does not work, then I will change it.

Yesterday I wrote about my doubts of having spiritual faith in the world, God and the universe. Today I realize I do still have some faith. I have faith in humanity. I believe that there are more good people than bad in the world, even on the big bad internet. My experience tells  me that these good people have good intentions and will happily share creative work that inspires them, with proper attribution. I believe that some of these people will also pay money to the artists for the privilege of having their art hang in their homes or offices. I trust that if those people happen to come across my work or yours that is not shared in an honourable way, that they will let us know. And I promise you this – you can have faith in me  that I will do the same thing in return.



Photo taken my me with an iphone5 using the Olloclip macro lens.

Photo taken my me with an iphone5 using the Olloclip macro lens.

It’s been almost four months since she died. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her, a conversation we had, a personal disclosure she entrusted to me, an appointment I drove her to and the last lunch we had together. I think of her courage, her challenges, her failures, disappointments and despite it all she still had hope for a better life. I think of her two orphaned children who on the few times I have seen them after their mother’s death, were wearing hand me downs that I gave to them from my own children…and it still hurts.

I have experienced many deaths in my family. Last year alone I attended three funerals but I never felt the kind of grief that was brought on by Lisa’s sudden, mysterious and untimely death. There are rare days when I almost forget about the vacancy her death has left in me, and then something pops up to remind me that it’s still there – unprocessed, unresolved and raw as ever. As is my way, I have not spoken with anyone about my feelings, instead choosing to deal with my grief privately. But after this amount of time, it’s not going away and I don’t know how to reconcile my conflicting feelings on my own.

I have lost faith in the world and without that, I am floundering. I want to believe in something bigger than me, something incomprehensible, an all loving, non judging, universal energy that supports me and all of us…but I am afraid to place my trust in the universe, in life. Anger has numbed me and Fear has filled my heart. Maybe for some people it would be an easy choice to move on from this and abandon all spiritual beliefs, but for me it’s difficult and I have no idea which side of this I am going to come out on.

Last Friday at work, I had a bit of a meltdown in a team meeting and before I could stop myself I was admitting to my co-workers that although I have respect for traditional ways and ceremonies (I work for an Aboriginal, culture based agency), I wasn’t sure if I truly believed in them and that I was still struggling with the death of my client. Being Aboriginal myself, I felt like I was a traitor and betraying my entire race with my doubts, but the responses I got back surprised me. “I understand…I have been there too…I have experienced the same…It’s okay…” I cried and couldn’t stop and for the first time in the last four months, I felt like I could fully breathe again.

I still don’t know how I am going to come out of this and what exactly my personal beliefs about the world are. I do know that I feel better for opening up to my co-workers, some of whom are long time friends and “traditional people”.

I once heard Lisa say to another person who was struggling and feeling afraid to ask for help, “It’s okay, everybody needs some help sometimes”. I’m taking those words to heart and realizing that today is a good time as any for me to reach out, express my grief and ask for some help in processing it.

Shameless self-promotion and a favour to ask…

It’s kind of funny, I feel really good and enthusiastic about sharing my work, but when it comes to promoting it – not so much. I’m far too shy and humble, so I’m stepping out of my comfort zone here…

Since a couple of people have asked and encouraged me, I wanted to let you all know that my Instagram photos are available to purchase as canvas or framed prints from Instacanvas. They also print greeting cards and iphone cases. I don’t have a lot of photos in there, but I will be maintaining my gallery more often and adding new photos that I feel are good ones for printing. Unfortunately, Instacanvas only offers prints in the square Instagram format. Personally, I prefer the landscape format but I haven’t yet found a place to offer prints for those ones. I’ll work on that and keep you updated.

Also, I have entered the photo you see below to be selected for the weekly Instacanvas Featured Artists on the homepage. This is where I need your help. If you feel so inclined, please click on the photo below and vote for me – that is if you feel it is worthy of being amongst the Featured Artists. I would really appreciate it!

That’s all for now, and I hope you have a fabulous day!

Humber Bay Lighthouse


Open your eyes

I have been feeling really good this week. I’m sure this is a combination of the warmer weather, spending more time outdoors and me being twenty pounds lighter. This past weekend I fit into a pair of skinny jeans that have been hibernating in my drawer for about five years. Victory!

photo (3)

I’m also feeling great today because I had a really nice little photo walk with my daughter last night. You know you’ve been bitten by the photography bug when you get totally excited about rocks, textures and the subtle palette of colours in the sky. My daughter enjoys taking photos too and she happily tags along with me, iPod in hand on my photo taking detours on the way home or between errands.

Purple cityscape - Toronto

This morning my six-year-old son was looking through my edited photos on my phone and he asked me if that is really how I see things, with all the colours. I explained to him that no it’s not actually how I see the world, it’s more like how I would like to see things. But there’s more to it than that. Since I started learning more about photography composition, I notice details in the landscape that I never paid much attention to before. I see the subtle pinks and purples in the sky, the hues of blue and green in the water, the details and textures in the rocks and grass. I pay attention to the clouds, the weather and the light and I feel more in tune with nature when I’m in that zone.


In post-processing, I sometimes use filters to enhance my photos and have a little fun, but more often I simply make adjustments to the ambiance, contrast/saturation and white balance to bring out the colours. Even though the eye doesn’t initially recognize it, all the colours are already there. You just have to slow down, open your eyes and let them reveal themselves to you.

Lakeside meditation

All photos are my own, taken and processed with various apps on my iPhone5. You can follow me on Instagram: @bearheartwoman and on Eye’em: @callmeshebear


These small and fragile looking irises survived the hail and frigid temperatures this weekend. They are a lot tougher than they look.

In a way, I can relate to these little flowers. This winter was long, cold, damp and dark but I survived and I’m ready for some sun! I’m looking forward to enjoying warmer spring weather and spending more time outdoors taking photos.

Enjoy your week!


Same book, same chapter, different page

Today’s blog thoughts are brought to you courtesy of my latest photo walk at Humber Bay Park in south Etobicoke, Toronto, Canada.

I think it is safe to say that my husband and are what most people would call unconventional. We never did the usual route of meet, fall in love, get married, buy a house in the suburbs and so on – if that is indeed the usual thing to do. When we first moved in together (about a month after we started dating) did either one of us ever think that 14 years later we would be married with children? Nope. We never talked about it or even sat down and talked about our future. That probably sounds incredibly irresponsible, but what can I say, Life just happened and we went along with it. It’s not that we never made any future plans. Eventually we did make plans and goals, but some of those things didn’t pan out resulting in my frustration when I wrote this post. It’s just that in hindsight, I think we could have avoided some of the challenges we faced if in the beginning we had thought a little more ahead of ourselves to be prepared for the future.

This approach of taking life as it comes has brought us many good things and interesting adventures. Our lives certainly aren’t boring and we have two wonderful children that have brought us immeasurable joy. But here’s the thing: when you have two young children, drifting along through life and taking it day by day means you might end up being unprepared for things to come. Hence, we find ourselves living in a space that we outgrew ages ago, with two busy careers and a lifestyle that is getting harder to juggle. We are both tired and ready to make some big changes.

Another view from yesterdays evening walk in Humber Bay Park.

A post shared by Billie-Jo (@bearheartwoman) on

A couple of months ago, I blogged about the possibility of moving our family to Costa Rica to pursue a new and different kind of life. This is something that we have talked about for years but it has never quite felt like the right time to make the big move. For some reason, this year I am feeling an urgency to get on with this and just do it. My husband on the other hand, ever so cautious and practical, has some reservations about making a definite decision. There are several other factors that come into play that we have to consider and making a decision that is best for us as a family feels like a daunting task. He’s right. This is not something you want to be hasty about, but on the other hand, we have been talking about it forever and I am tired of talk and ready for action.

We’re discussing it more seriously, and figuring out our options. It may take more time but I think we are getting closer to making some decisions for our family that we both feel good about. Two possibilities are moving to Costa Rica or moving to a smaller town (we own a home in a smaller city that we rent out). Costa Rica definitely feels more appealing, but we haven’t agreed on which direction to head into.

Neither one of us yet knows the answers to all the questions and factors involved in moving our family to a foreign country and starting a new life. We don’t know all the “how’s” of making this crazy dream we have a reality. The only thing I know for sure is my gut feeling telling me that if both of us can just get together on the same page in the story of our lives, all kinds of possibilities will open up for us, and the “how” of making our dreams a reality will inevitably come into clear focus.

I think Humber Bay Park is my new favourite spot to view the city skyline.

A post shared by Billie-Jo (@bearheartwoman) on

All photos are my own, taken and processed with various apps on my iPhone 5 and shared on Instagram. Follow me on Instagram: @bearheartwoman.

I’m in a slump and it’s time to work myself out of it

How easy it is to slip into a creative slump. Unfortunately it is not as easy to pull yourself out of one. It’s been quite a while since I have gone down to the lake to capture a sunrise with my iPhone camera and I am missing this creative time and early morning solitude.

I blame it on the cold winter weather. My photo walks have been sparse over the last few months and at this point I am really feeling the lack of creativity in my life. Not only am I not making photos, I am also not waking up early in the morning to write while my family sleeps. Instead, I am sleeping in until 7:30am and rushing around like a crazy lady to get everyone out the door on time. FYI, this is not a good way to start your day and leaves me with almost zero alone time. As a result, I am tired, run down and uninspired.

I have always been the type of person who has to go through extreme contrasts to learn the life lessons. As messy and chaotic as it is, it’s my process and I have to go with it. When I am on top of things, and a couple of steps ahead of myself, I feel good and life is great. When I let that slip, I can quickly descend into an emotional slump that will threaten to swallow me up if I let it.

Don’t worry, it’s not all bad. I am doing great in some other aspects of my life. My diet is going really well and I have lost almost 20 lbs since January 25th. I am getting more exercise and feeling good physically. I’m looking forward to shopping for new clothes to fit my new body later this spring.

This feels like a bit of a stretch to say right now but, in a way I am grateful for the creative slump I currently find myself in. It deepens my understanding that just as eating healthy and regular exercise are important for physical health, making time for creative expression is as equally if not even more important for maintaining my mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Bring me that horizon

Bring me that horizon

Photo taken with my iPhone5, edited with Camera+, Snapseed, PicFX and Instagram.

Follow me on Instagram: @bearheartwoman